What Does Arsene Wenger Have Against Kieran Gibbs?


After Kieran Gibbs’ man of the match performance against QPR, I thought for sure that he’d be cemented in at left back, that I wouldn’t have to speculate as to why Nacho Monreal was starting in front of him. However, despite an assist, 14 clearances and 7 interceptions, Gibbs has yet again been benched for Nacho Monreal.

I’m thoroughly baffled. Monreal is a good back up but for him to be consistently starting over Kieran Gibbs is completely astounding. Let’s look at what the two have done since the start of February (via WhoScored.com):

[table id=26 /]

As you can see, Gibbs’ numbers, when considering playing time, are better than Monreal, both offensively and defensively. I’m not downplaying Nacho Monreal’s ability. He’s been great too and having both of these left backs in the squad is incredibly beneficial, but I see Gibbs as the better left back.

So defensively, Gibbs has been better lately, yet he hasn’t been given the time. What about offensively? Using Squawka’s player comparison Matrix, we can look at what the two have done all year on a per 90 minute basis. Here are the numbers:

[table id=27 /]

The numbers are all in favor of Gibbs. Again, Monreal is great. He edges out Gibbs in some stats too, but when it comes to a better all-inclusive left back who contributes more offensively and defensively to the team, the winner is Kieran Gibbs.

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And the numbers don’t even take into account that Gibbs is a much more prominent member of Arsenal’s future than Monreal. Gibbs is only 25 years old whereas Monreal is 29.

So what exactly does Arsene Wenger have against Kieran Gibbs?

I hope you didn’t come here looking for an answer, because I’m just as confused. Wenger usually plays the in-form man, the one who’s done the most lately. It takes a lot to unseat a starter and it takes even more to keep him out. Except in Gibbs’ case, where he was unseated twice in the span of three months despite playing exceptionally well.

Gibbs has the potential to be superb, and we’ve seen performances where he is. He may have a stinker from time to time, but they aren’t Per-Mertesacker-sized stinkers. Monreal is different, he consistently does good but rarely ever ventures to the level that Gibbs plays at when he’s switched on.

All these interruptions to Gibbs career are doing him no favors and while I usually make it a habit to trust in Arsene Wenger no matter what, this time I have to argue.

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